Tuesday, July 03, 2007

S-N-A-F-U

Tyler and Cosh have excellent posts up regarding the Nylander fiasco.

Tyler in particular seems to suggest that all contract law in the concerned jurisdictions is out the window based on language in the NHL CBA.

I wonder if that's really the case.

What exactly is a Letter of Intent? Does it have value regardless of the definition of an NHL/NHLPA contract? Furthermore, do you need an SPC with a player to prove that he negatively impacted your franchise's business? I'm not convinced of that either.

Anyway, I'm not sure I really care about this issue at all. No matter what happens, Nylander isn't going to be an Oiler and the organization's credibility is shot. Neither of those things is changing.

I do think Nylander would have been a pretty good move. I can't imagine the money would have been worse than $5.5MM/yr and I'm perfectly fine with burning a year at the end of the deal, so I'm not even that worried about the term. I trashed Nylander in the comments on this blog during the playoffs, but I checked his career scoring rates this offseason prior to the UFA season. They look very good and they looked good sans Jagr. I also think he was an excellent fit for Hemsky and I've heard mention that he's a little more focused than earlier in his career. That is to say, I wouldn't have been that worried about his softness.

Of course, I'm interested in watching the Oilers win some hockey games in the next two years, so I might be a little biased. I also don't think you rebuild by sucking for 4-5 yrs anymore either.

Just my opinion of course, but I think the Oilers organization has cemented its Mickey Mouse status this week. Assuming the past 13 months haven't already been enough.

10 Comments:

Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

This whole thing just doesn't pass the sniff test, Cam.

First off, this whole Letter Of Intent thing is damned odd.

A letter of intent is a legal document, generally an abbreviated version of a contract, or a letter that references previous formal written communications. Meant to expedite business.

So if you had given me a detailed proposal to build a regulation hockey rink in my back yard, and I was happy with it, and if I found out that you needed to start work tomorrow to meet my completion deadline ... then I don't have time to finalize and send you the 200 page contract to Georgia via courier ... so I fax you a letter of intent so you can get cracking in it.

Or maybe I have some concerns about some of the finer points of the contract (lets say payment terms and nonperformance penalties) but I need you to start work straight away, I send you a LOI to get you to commence the design. And if we can't work through these issues at a later date ... then the contract ends up being just for the design.

...

I may be missing something here, but I struggle to see how this could apply to an NHL player contract.

Firstly, the Standard Player's Contract is extremely rigid in it's structure, especially for players under 35 years of age.

Secondly, the SPC is so incredibly simple that it doesn't make basic sense for a player agent to draft a LOI.

Thirdly, as I understand it the agent is not authorized to make final decisions for the player. The player cannot surrender that right. So the player signs the SPC, the agent does not.

.

I suspect that the Oilers are choosing to claim that an informal email from Mike Gillis is, in fact, a letter of intent from Nylander.

MC79 and some other clever people are scrutinizing this now, but really, I find it hard to believe that the Oilers are serious about this.

Worth noting that according to Larry Brooks Nylander's previous agent negotiated a contract with the Rangers earlier this spring. Nylander rejected it and fired his agent.

quoting the Brooks piece:
According to a well-placed source, Nylander, who as late as the May 8 break-up day that followed the Blueshirts' elimination by the Sabres stated his desire to remain in New York, decided to part ways with Theofanous the final week of the season after learning that his agent had reached an independent agreement with Glen Sather for a three-year contract worth $3.75M per.

The agent can negotiate whatever he likes, it means nothing until the player signs it off. That couldn't be more explicit. Still, it does sound like Nylander is a pain in the ass to deal with.

7/04/2007 2:53 am  
Blogger Black Dog said...

If they have a leg to stand on then I think they have to pursue the matter. Not sure what they will get out of it - Nylander is not coming to Edmonton - but you cannot allow yourself to be abused like that and maintain any credibility.

Of course, if this is all akin to my toddler's tantrum this morning when I wouldn't allow him to eat a bag of sugar for breakfast then Lowe and his gang have lost all credibility and should resign immediately.

It will be up to the NHL to decide, of course. With the reports of Lowe's anger one has to think he either has a terrific case and his anger is righteous or he is just completely losing it.

7/04/2007 6:44 am  
Blogger Tyler said...

With the reports of Lowe's anger one has to think he either has a terrific case and his anger is righteous or he is just completely losing it.

I think that his anger is righteous but he's got a lousy case. Lots of shitty things to do are within the letter of the law or the CBA. Anyone remember that defenceman who used to play in Edmonton, went by the name of Pronger?

Vic's comments about the LOI make sense to me. While I understand where people are coming from in making the argument that, generally speaking, that can bind you, I don't think that's what happened here.

7/04/2007 7:02 am  
Blogger Black Dog said...

I read your post Ty and it is pretty straightforward, which I appreciate :), but I think it was a comment therein that struck me. I believe he referenced Briere as an example. These contracts aren't signed sealed and delivered - there is some sort of mechanism (maybe spirit of the law stuff) that prevents this from happening or I think it would happen more often.

Having said that the Oilers may very well not have a legal argument - what was the result of the whole Lindros deal when there was supposedly a deal in place? Did the Rangers get any compensation of any sort?

7/04/2007 8:16 am  
Blogger Black Dog said...

Just in the Globe - Daly echoes what Tyler said - ie/ there is a standard player's contract - however he also speaks about the possible "breach of a contractual commitment" and the fact that if the Oilers can prove their case then the league will assist the Oilers in seeking "an appropriate remedy"

So something in the "spirit of the law" is enforceable apparently?

Not sure what remedy there would be for the Oilers - not sure how you can penalize the Caps.

7/04/2007 10:15 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

You know, I just now had a look at the SPC in the new CBA (Exhibit 1, around page 245 for those interested, NHLPA.com has a copy online).

My question: How hard could it be to get the SPC completed and signed by Nylander and emailed or faxed to the NHL?

I'm pretty sure that I could get your signature on an SPC with the same terms as Nylander's contract, Pat. Except that you'd be playing for "Vic's Back Yard Flyers". And I could have that emailed or faxed off to the NHL all within an hour or so starting from right now.

And if you're at your cottage right now and don't have a scanner or printer handy ... then take your Blackberry and drive to a fucking Kinkos, Pat. This is your playing career we're talking about for crissakes!

Now if, a day later, I find out from the NHL that you had signed a similar contract with the RiversQ Sycamore Leaves just an hour before you signed my deal ... I'd be screwed, even though neither contract was official yet (because neither contract had been reviewed and approved by the league).

That's not what happened with the Oilers and Nylander though.

Having said all of that, if I were Daly I'd give Lowe a 2nd round pick as compensation for what's happened to his hair since he became GM.

7/04/2007 11:01 am  
Blogger Black Dog said...

Well, my cottage only has boat access and no interweb so there's a problem with your scenario right there, Vic. Of course I guess I'd come into town for July 1.

Point taken though - I guess the question is - what were the Oilers doing between when they thought they had a deal and found out they did not? Are they that incompetent (maybe they are) that they were completely out to lunch on this? And if they were then why embarrass themselves even more by making a big stink about it? If that's the case then they look even worse to the fans then if they had not even made the effort to sign Nylander, I'd say.

I guess they will submit their case to the league and there will be a decision based on that. I absolutely understand what you are saying and I have no idea what goes on in these deals in terms of paper and signatures etc. Unless they are completely and totally hopeless (and I grant this may be the case) they seem to think they have an argument based on what passed between them and Daly seems to think that if the facts support their argument then something may be done.

BTW, I'll be waiting for my SPC, Vic. Every team needs someone like me, a cagey veteran presence who takes care of his own end, has some savvy and is a big help on the PK.

I'm like Moreau. If Moreau was small, slow and had worse hands.

7/04/2007 11:48 am  
Blogger RiversQ said...

I'm like Moreau. If Moreau was small, slow and had worse hands.

Oh yeah? Do your arms come off at the shoulder like the big robot in Voltron as well?

Vic makes good points about this whole scenario, but I think the most important thing is that nothing's really changing about this anyway, so who really cares?

7/04/2007 12:27 pm  
Blogger Black Dog said...

a) something to distract us from the fact that this season is going to make the last two months of last season resemble V-E Day, with the drinking and the kissing and the cheering

b) something to measure incompetence by - as in, if the NHL actually sides with the Oilers then Lowe et al are graded as very incompetent, while if their arguments are found to be lacking then they will be found to be totally and completely imcompetent

the difference between a D- and an F as it were

I think that's about it.

7/04/2007 12:35 pm  
Blogger uni said...

Oh yeah? Do your arms come off at the shoulder like the big robot in Voltron as well?

Off topic, but yet another reason to sign Markov, so there's no chance of a girly slap to Markov's helmet ending Moreau's season again.

The LOI makes sense if there were loads of minor details to work out, or if Nylander was in the middle of Siberia...still this whole thing is a bit off. In the Landscaping world though, an LOI is law, it's a handshake business, don't know about the NHL though.

7/04/2007 6:54 pm  

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